Seth C: I don’t know about you, but I’m not discouraged by the SHSU game, really at all. As a lot of us have noted, the game was typical Texas Tech in that the offense was a beautiful thing to watch and it wasn’t even perfect, while the defense wasn’t great as well, but for whatever reason, I really feel like David Gibbs and Mike Smith are going to get this right. Am I setting myself up for utter disappointment?
Travis: I’m right there with you. I certainly understand everyone’s frustration with the defensive performance on Saturday, particularly from the front 7, but I was so entertained by Mahomes and what the offense was doing that I just couldn’t get too bent out of shape.
I think there were a couple of things: it was 59-31 in the 4th quarter, on a ridiculously hot day. Sure they wilted down the stretch but you have to think the conditioning, technique and overall jitters will get better as the season plays out.
What stood out to me, and was the reason why I chose to write about Mahomes’ grasp of rhythm, was the stellar play from the offense for 3 quarters.
We aren’t there yet, but it reminded me of that feeling of invincibility so many fans had during the peak Leach years. No matter what happened, you always felt like Tech had a shot. That feeling has been gone since 2008. There were glimpses of it in 09 when Sheffield was so hot, but it’s been a long time since I’ve watched a game and felt confident that Tech would win, no matter what.
So to flip it back, what gives you so much confidence in Gibbs and Smith ultimately being able to get things trending in the right direction on defense?
Seth C: I wish I knew what it was exactly that was making me think that things were going to be okay. Gibbs doesn’t try to sell me on some horsecrap that may or may not happen. He’s pretty much a realist and he hasn’t come in and said that we’ll be this ultra aggressive defense or said that he has some sort of schematic advantage, but he’s essentially said, through most of the spring and fall, that he knows that he’ll probably give up yards, but he’s going to do his best to try to get the defense to force some turnovers and give that offense the ball back for a few extra opportunities.
And Smith doesn’t feel like he’s selling us a load of crap either, which is important to me. There’s part of me that totally gets that the defense has been hamstrung by the fact that they haven’t had a consistent teacher for more than a year. Old habits die hard. It happens to all of us. It’s probably real easy to go back to popping up rather than keeping your head down and driving or to forget some other technique. All of the things that we saw, where there was no push, absolutely happened. With repetition comes continuity and the more that they see this, the better that they’ll be, at least that’s the hope.
So, my general idea is that I just don’t think I’m being force-fed some b.s. about how they’ll dominate, but they’re more concerned about keeping technique and responsibilities pretty simple. This is depressing in a way, but Gibbs said that he knows that he’s getting close with that communication with the defense when the defense understands what he’s trying to stop based on what he’s called. That makes a lot of sense and right now, it doesn’t look like they know what’s coming, which means that as a defense, they still need to learn not just what their assignment is, but why this particular play is being called at this particular time.
No one is talking about the Pete Robertson suspension. Kingsbury is being tight-lipped about the entire thing, but Pete was in and near Kingsbury during the game and talking to the defense. What do you make of the suspension and do you give Kingsbury credit for, perhaps, making an example out of Robertson (i.e., we expect you to be a leader of this team, be mature and be someone that the freshmen follow)?
Travis: A client of mine is a Tech grad. We were chatting one day about Kliff and Texas Tech when he told me a story. He said he was at an event and had a brief conversation with Kliff. Kingsbury remembered my client’s son (he recruited him while at Houston) and asked how he was, where he was now, etc.
He said all that was great, but a few days later he was surprised to receive a handwritten note from Kliff saying that he’d enjoyed talking to him and to tell his son to have a good time in college (I think he’s at Colorado). We both agreed that Kingsbury is old-school in many regards (this story was my original motivation for the Old Man Kingsbury story last week).
The point of retelling this is that I think Kliff has his off-field game down. Whether it’s the story from my client, or him seeking out that UT player and vet last year to thank him for his service, there’s just so much to be proud of when it comes to Kingsbury the person.
That’s where this Robertson story falls for me. Kingsbury is not only going to be swift with discipline, he’s also going to try and use it as a teaching moment. It had to be harder for Pete to be on the sideline last Saturday than sitting at home watching the game, but there he was, trying to help.
And yes I get frustrated with Kingsbury’s often unnecessary secrecy, but this is an instance where I think it’s warranted. Keep it in house and hope that Robertson can grow from it.
Which is also a great segue to discuss a very controversial topic: Earlier this summer you went on some crazy rant about how bad wedge salads are and said all kinds of crazy things on Twitter. Have you finally come to your senses and realized that eating a salad with a knife and fork should be the only legal way to eat a salad?
Seth C: Hold up. I’m not against the wedge salad. I’ll be honest, it’s not one that I prefer, but what I am for is the chopped salad. I’m a huge advocate, in fact I did this last night, of taking the time to chop your salad into smaller bite-sized pieces so that when ever bite you get a bit of each part of the salad. Rather than having a mouthful of lettuce, you get a bit of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and if you’re feeling a bit spicy, perhaps some pepperoncini. With the wedge salad, you’re having to man-handle that thing while you’re at the dinner table and if you’re anything like me, I always end up with ranch dressing on the side of my mouth because I didn’t take the time to fully cut up the lettuce and I then raise my head up and my wife is looking at me in disgust.
During this Twitter rant, you actually admitted to liking blue cheese dressing, which I am almost positive put you on certain watch lists.
Travis: I know I’m in the minority, but I enjoy a nice bitter, blue cheese paired with the crunchiness of the wedge of lettuce and bacon. On top of that there’s the zestiness of the little sliced tomatoes and perhaps some finely chopped onions. I can’t help it if my palate is more refined than almost everyone else’s on Twitter.
So do you see this playing out similar to last year- which was a non-conference schedule that seemed to be a slow march toward the rumbling devastation and mass of humanity that invaded Lubbock with their little pig hats yelling PIG SOOEY? Are we on that same march with UTEP coming up, or will things get a little better this weekend?
Seth C: Well, the line is 21 or 22, depending on where you look, so I think that’s too high, but I do think Texas Tech wins and offense continues to hum along. I think the UTEP offense isn’t as good as it was last year because they’ve got a brand new quarterback who’s just sorta learning the ropes. I think Texas Tech wins by 15 or so, something like 42-28 or something like that. I really do think that the difference between this year and last is the offense that will put pressure on opposing defenses and force them to score. That’s a pretty big deal.
Travis: There should be a whole lot of this.